Board Says Woman Was Sexually Harassed by Employer

first_imgAn Annapolis Valley woman has had her sexual harassment complaint upheld by an independent human rights board of inquiry. Danielle Bennett of Kentville complained to the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission in May 2004 that she was sexually harassed by her employer, Michael Tan, while working at Hau’s Family Restaurant. She accused Mr. Tan of fondling her. Ms. Bennett alleged that when she confronted him in front of his wife, Mr. Tan denied some of her allegations but acknowledged he had touched her inappropriately. Ms. Bennett claimed she was subjected to harassment by other staff at the restaurant after confronting Mr. Tan with his actions. In upholding the complaint, board chair Robert Stewart said he was “persuaded by the balance of probabilities that Michael Tan engaged in a course of conduct over the course of four years in relation to Danielle Bennett … which would constitute sexual harassment within the meaning of the [Nova Scotia Human Rights] Act.” The chair accepted Ms. Bennett’s claim of retaliation arising from the Tans’ request for repayment of a demand loan after the human rights complaint was filed, but did not accept that other allegations made by Ms. Bennett amounted to retaliation under the act. Both Mr. Tan and Hau’s Family Restaurant have been ordered to pay Ms. Bennett a total sum of $2,500 in general damages. The chair also ordered that the respondents, including Mr. Tan’s wife, Bonnie Tan, be subjected to monitoring for three years by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission to ensure their compliance with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. They must report the name and address information for all employees to the commission for this period and arrange for sensitivity training for themselves and their staff. The respondents must also report the fact and the reason that an employee has left their employ during the three-year period. A complaint is referred to an independent board of inquiry when the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission believes a prima facie case of discrimination is made after an investigation by a human rights officer. The chief judge of the provincial court selects a board chair from a roster and the commissioners ratify the nomination. The decision on the complaint is then in the hands of the independent board. Evidence collected during investigation of a complaint is presented at the hearing by the commission’s legal counsel. The complainant and respondent can make submissions and question witnesses. The board chair then decides whether discrimination has occurred. All parties have a right to appeal decisions of boards of inquiry to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. A copy of the decision is available on the commission’s website at http://gov.ns.ca/humanrights/ .last_img read more